Couple seeks permission to develop at county lake

Staff reporter

A Marion County Lake couple wants to open various businesses at Marion County Lake.

Jim and Deborah Whitfill addressed Marion County Commission Nov. 13, about the possibility of using a portion of the lake hall for a private restaurant.

A kitchen and a portion of the seating area would be used for the restaurant which primarily would serve breakfast.

Marion County Commission Chairman Randy Dallke asked if any research had been conducted regarding the usage of the lake hall since it was built with county funds.

Commissioner Dan Holub said information had been sought about the lake hall but did not find any answers.

The Whitfills also want to own businesses that would provide cabin and people-powered water-related rentals such as paddle boats and kayaks.

"We have expended several thousands of dollars of our own money to check into business opportunities," Jim Whitfill said.

Deborah Whitfill said they were considering bunkhouse-type cabins, and a couple of two-bedroom cabins more "upscale" with bathrooms, and kitchenettes.

Dallke commented there would have to be extensions and upgrades to the lake's water and sewer lines to accommodate the additional facilities.

"I have no problems of looking at these issues but am concerned about the primary purpose of the lake hall," Dallke said.

Dallke then asked the commission what would happen if the county allowed the restaurant to open on county property and a private restaurant near the lake reopened. Jim and Deborah Whitfill said their restaurant would concentrate on serving breakfast, concessions, and lunches for fishermen.

Dallke asked lake superintendent Steve Hudson for his opinion.

"The lake hall has been rented years in advance," Hudson said. He offered to check the reservation information to see how many times both sides of the lake hall has been rented in the coming months.

Deborah Whitfill asked how often both sides and kitchens of the lakes hall were rented? Jim Whitfill said he wouldn't have a problem with people wanting to use a portion of the lake hall where he would be located, just not the kitchen.

The commission then discussed that typically this time of year, the lake hall is winterized and not rented out until spring. Hudson said he had turned down people wanting to rent it during the holidays. The purpose for not using the lake hall was because of heating costs.

The Whitfills were asked to present a formal proposal regarding their businesses and the county would conduct more research regarding the use of the lake hall.